Diving in Mayotte: the S pass and the aviators wall

Dive to Mayotte in the S pass

Diving in Mayotte is necessarily to want to discover the eastern part of the island popular among divers for its famous Pass in S. So when I had the chance to go to this beautiful island, it was impossible for me to ignore the pass (😉).

Mayotte’s S pass from Bandrélé

Not wishing to stay on Mamoudzou the capital, I decided to put my suitcases for three nights on the beach of Sakouli.

La plage de Sakouli
L’immense plage de Sakouli | © Different Dive

An original hotel

A curious establishment with a very friendly atmosphere, a kind of a windsurf atmosphere.  The O’lolo Hotel offers rooms with an extraordinary view of the lagoon and the islet Bandrélé in the distance. The restaurant menu consists mainly of salads. Keep in mind, the restaurant closes at 7pm. It is therefore useful to plan to eat somewhere else in the evening. To be foresighted. Or take the opportunity to pay attention to your diet. An original hotel to discover here.

Breakfast on the beach is incredible.

Que manger avant la plongée ? C'est ce que se demande Hélène en regardant un plateau repas avec gourmandise
Que manger avant la plongée ? | © Different Dive

The rooms mounted on stilts all overlooking the sea have a rope hammock allowing me to observe my first lemurs. Just before seeing the comoros, a species of bat endemic to Mayotte…  I’m so happy.

Un lémuriens à l'hotel O'lolo à Mayotte
Lémuriens | © Different Dive
Une chauve souris Roussette à Mayotte
La roussette | © Different Dive

A friendly dive centre

But (and most importantly), the choice of hotel is strategic. Indeed, it allows to reach on foot by the beach, in a few minutes, the dive shop named Jolly Roger 976 with whom I booked my dives in the famous pass in S of Mayotte. Diving centre which also has an excellent beach restaurant (the 23rd) serving… salads.

Philippe, the manager, welcomes us warmly. As it is the beginning of the season, we will be almost alone on the boat with him and Xavier his instructor.

Le centre Jolly Roger permet de plonger à Mayotte dans la passe en S
Philippe sur le chouette bateau du Jolly Roger | © Different Dive

Diving in Mayotte: the East Coast

The first dive, check Dive, takes place off the Bandrélé island: a small wreck and impressive drop-offs give us the desire to discover even more dives in Mayotte.

Philippe explains the fragility of the marine eco-system and the interest of preserving it. Of course, I am sensitive to the arguments specific to the protection of the oceans in particular and to ecology in general. I ask him if he thinks we can see a humpback whale in the area.

But I know the answer: you don’t take an appointment with nature.

Des plongeurs sur une petite épave à l'îlot Bandrélé
Petite épave près de l’îlot Bandrélé | © Different Dive
Fond marin de Mayotte
Comme juste posée là | © Different Dive

Surprising encounter

However, the next morning while I was enjoying a delicious lunch, a girl shows us a boat in the distance. She tells us that her husband is on it and that they are busy observing a whale with her calf.

I can’t believe my ears and press my partner to immediately join the dive club.

Un plongeur rejoint un bateau qui le mènera plonger à Mayotte dans la passe en S
Plonger dans la passe en S | © Different Dive

Philippe agrees to go in the direction of the boats but advises me to be patient and prepare quietly. Indeed, two boats are already on the spot. The rules are clear: no more than two boats and Philippe intends to respect it.

I’m a little disappointed but I much prefer to comply and not harass the whale and its calf.

We are therefore waiting before heading offshore. Philip shuts down the engine and waits. I’m looking at the horizon.

And the magic works: a humpback whale comes to watch us on the surface with his calf. A few meters separate us from her. I’m breathless. It’s a magical moment. Philippe offers us to put us in the water on the other side of the boat. We are just in the water and the whale and its calf bypass our boat come very close to us and disappear in the sea. This will remain one of the intense moments of this trip to Mayotte… Travel that has many more surprises for me.

Une baleine et son baleineau viennent nous saluer lorsque nous partons plonger à Mayotte
Rencontre magique | © Different Dive

The S pass

During the three days diving with Philippe, we will mainly explore the S pass.

This pass, presented as the must of diving in Mayotte meanders over 4 km drawing an S visible from the sky. Mayotte’s S pass has several buoys that mark each spot with their own specificity.

The water ranges from 26 to 27 degrees Celsius and I’m glad I took my 5mm suit with me.

In the S-pass, many species are present: sponges, corals, fish of all sizes and colors, clown fish typical of this part of the globe, nudibranchs and other gastropods, moray eels, anemones, barracudas, grouper ,lion fish,… And of course, turtles. As there is current the bottom is stirred and a suspension of sand is almost permanent. This inevitably has an impact on visibility, which is still good even if it weakens the colors.

Plonger à Mayotte dans la passe en S et apercevoir un poisson clown
Bien à l’abri dans mon anémone | © Different Dive
Une tortue se laisse aller paisible dans le courant de la passe en S de Mayotte
A la dérive ? | © Different Dive

The wall of the aviators

Diving in Mayotte’s S-pass is of course a pleasure.

However, it is by far the dive on the wall of the aviators that will amaze me the most. This spot got it’s name because of the proximity to the airport runway and offers a dizzying 60 m deep drop off.

The dive site has several corridors and tunnels in which it is magical to evolve. We take one of them that lead to a 25m bottom on the wall and the vastness of the ocean. A very nice underwater life, atmospheres and sumptuous colors. I’m conquered.

Un plongeur explore le tombant des aviateurs à Mayotte
Exploration | © Different Dive

My opinion on my stay in Bandrélé

The O'lolo Hotel ➡️ More information HERE

I like: the location close to a dive centre, the original and colorful surf atmosphere, the location on the beach, the rooms on stilts, the comfort of the room with beautiful bathroom, the sea view, the rope hammock, the lemurs and bats, the friendly "bar-lounge" area, the varied salads, the breakfast "feet in the water", the very friendly welcome

I like less: the restaurant and the bar that close very early, the lack of "hot" dishes, the road that could be fixed.
Le bar de l'hôtel O'lolo à Mayotte
Apéro time ? | © Different Dive
Jolly Roger 976 dive club ➡️ More information HERE

I like: Philippe's warm welcome, the ideal location to explore the Pass in S and the islet Bandrélé, the superb boat that does not lack space, the friendliness and availability of the manager, the restaurant attached to the dive shop (basic but good), possibility to rinse and let dry properly the equipment, the boats leaves even for two divers, good knowledge of the spots, open 7 days a week.

I like less: walking on the stony beach (provide slippers, it's simpler)
Un plat de salade servi au restaurant du club de plongée Jolly Roger
Lunch time | © Different Dive

My opinion on the dives in Mayotte in the Pass in S

I was expecting some very nice dives and it must be said that they were nice !

However, I could only advise you not to limit yourself to the very famous S pass of Mayotte and to dare to discover other spots. Indeed, overall, the Pass in S seemed at that time somewhat deserted from marine life (too much fishing? Bad season ?…)

On the other hand, don’t miss the aviators’ drop-off which is a really top spot before going further.

Hélène Adam de Different Dive devant l'hôtel O'lolo à Mayotte
Et maintenant, on va où ? | © Different Dive

Have you ever been diving into Mayotte’s S-pass? Do you know this eastern part of the island?

Feel free to leave me a comment directly on the blog. I’ll be happy to talk to you.

And above all… remember to be happy 🤗

Hélène

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